BLOG: Kilpatrick's income, airport security and texts take center stage in unusual day of testimony

DETROIT (WXYZ) - Follow along with day 48 of the Kwame Kilpatrick corruption trial as 7 Action News Investigator Ross Jones blogs from federal court:

1:00--Finished: Today's strange day of testimony is coming to an end.  Thanks for joining us this week, everybody.  We'll be back Monday.

12:58--Ready to roll: Testimony is still continuing, but Bernard Kilpatrick is packing up his things quietly in the corner.  I can't really blame him, and I'm sure a lot of jurors can't either.  It's been an odd day of testimony, and I could use a nice weekend break. 

12:50--Unusual day: What a strange day it's been.  We started with testimony about Bernard Kilpatrick's income taxes, then watched video of an FBI agent stuffing $90,000 in his Levis, heard Kilpatrick's lawyer delve into all sorts of questions about airport security, and now we're reviewing text messages and bid documents related to Bobby Ferguson's old city business.

Today's testimony has been disjointed, to say the least.

12:46--Ferguson text: Bobby Ferguson sent Kilpatrick a text which shows he's clearly upset with how Walbridge officials were dealing with him at one point.

"Walbridge is not playing ball black man, these white folks need to be made believers that they are not in control," Ferguson said.

Kilpatrick responded: "will call later."

12:36--Going back: It seems like we're going backwards now, to testimony related to Bobby Ferguson allegedly having to have been hired by Walbridge Construction officials to receive city work.  We heard about this testimony before breaking for the Christmas holiday.  If you need a refresher, click here.

The feds have created a large poster board with a chronology of events related to Walbridge's contract. 

12:28--Another G-man: Jensen is done with his testimony, and a new FBI agent is now up. It's a familiar face: Bob Beeckman, who's the lead FBI agent on this case.

12:25--Cash stashed: Jensen says he mostly used $100 bills, rather than $50 bills, because Clift testified the $90,000 he carried was mostly $100s.  He concedes that the money would have been much bulkier had he used smaller denominations, though.

12:14--Show me the money: $90,000 in cash is currently seated on the witness stand, next to FBI agent Joseph Jensen, who's currently testifying.  He's the one who stuffed the cash in his pants on the video the jurors just watched.

Asst. U.S. Attorney Jennifer Blackwell offered to pass the money around to jurors so they could get a better sense of what it weighs, but Judge Edmunds killed that idea.

"Maybe you should just show it to them," she said to laughter, before adding: "Not that I don't trust you."

Sorry for the delay in blog posts.  I had to run outside to do what is surely the coldest live shot ever for our 7 Action News at Noon viewers.

11:46--Crease in his shirt: Jim Thomas is making a big deal out of a crease in the agent's shirt (that we're watching on the video) after he stuffed the money inside his pants.  Frankly, I don't see any crease, and the TSA agent testifying doesn't seem impressed by it either, but Thomas is suggesting he looks very suspicious, and anyone carrying that much money on their person would warrant a pat down by TSA. 

TSA agent Lorenz, though, disagreed.

"And you're here to insure our safety?" Thomas said.

Judge Edmunds didn't care for that shot at the agent.

11:40--Stuffing cash: We're seeing video of a federal agent stuffing money into his jeans (really, we are) at Metro Airport. We're currently staring at his backside as he shoves wads into his pants.  Presumably, he's about to walk through the metal detector.

11:35--Video: It looks like the jury is about to be shown a video of this test conducted at Metro Airport.  It's up on the screen, but isn't being played yet.

11:30--Body scans: Kilpatrick lawyer Jim Thomas asked Lorenz is airport body scanners would notice stacks of cash inside someone's pants.  Lorenz says that it would, but it's not clear if Mahlon Clift actually went through one of those. 

10:56--Slow down: Lorenz says that metal detectors aren't designed to notice money going through them. If they did, he said, it would drastically slow down the screening process, sounding an alarm each time someone with a dollar in their pocket walked through the detector.

The feds conducted 100 tests on the metal detector, carrying $90,000 through the machine, and Lorenz says the money was never detected.

10:53--Metal detectors: Lorenz is testifying about a test conducted at Detroit Metro Airport in October, in response to an argument raised by defense lawyers related to this case.  Early on in trial, former Kilpatrick friend Mahlon Clift testified that he carried $90,000 in his pants and through the airport metal detectors (evading detection) so he could bring the money to Kilpatrick.  But Kilpatrick lawyer Jim Thomas insisted that that wasn't possible, as each dollar has a small metal ribbon inside that would be detected by a metal detector.

The feds conducted this test to see if they could prove Thomas was wrong. According to a court filing detailing the results of their test, the metal detectors didn't notice a thing.

10:50--New witness: On the stand is Steve Lorenz, an employee of Homeland Security.  He'll be testifying about screening at Detroit Metro Airport.

10:21--Break time: Stay with us, we're on a short break.

10:20--Standing firm: Essentially, Schuch says she stands by her calculations about what taxes are owed by Bernard Kilpatrick. Her testimony is now complete for the day.

10:14--Shea done: And with that, Shea is done cross-examining Schuch.  Asst. U.S. Attorney Jennifer Blackwell is back.

10:02--Casting doubt: As we've learned several times through this trial, Bernard Kilpatrick liked to gamble (he wasn't terribly good at it, but it didn't stop him from hitting the slots regularly). Shea asked Schuch if it's possible that Bernard Kilpatrick could have withdrawn cash to take to the casino, then later redeposit what he had left.  That wouldn't be any new income, he's saying, it would be the same money he had from before (just a little less of it). 

He's trying to raise more possible explanations for these deposits, and cast doubt on Schuch's investigation into his finances.

9:53--Heating up: It's rare to see Bernard Kilpatrick's lawyer John Shea raise his voice, much less lose his temper, but both have happened a few times while he's cross-examining IRS agent Rowena Schuch. He's shown his frustration when she's not directly answered his questions, or tried to answer a question Shea never asked.

I'm not able to see the jurors from my vantage point, but I do know that in the past, Shea has usually done a nice job holding their attention. 

9:39--Loans v. income: Shea asked Schuch if it's possible that some of the money deposited into Bernard Kilpatrick's accounts could have just been the repayment of a loan that he had provided someone.  Schuch conceded that it could be.  In other words, Schuch is making assumptions about what's income and what isn't, and Shea says that's dangerous.

"You do the best you can identifying what you believe are non-taxed items," Schuch said, but added: "You don't know it, though!"

9:33--Kado unreliable: John Shea is asking Schuch about her interview with Karl Kado, a Detroit businessman who said he paid Bernard Kilpatrick hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash. Shea is pointing out that Kado's testimony was sometimes "variable" and that he could only offer an estimated range of payments he made to Kilpatrick.  Therefore, he's arguing, how can Schuch rely on his answers to help calculate how much money Bernard Kilpatrick was paid?

Schuch is pushing back, but Shea is clearly trying to demonstrate that at least part of her calculation here is based on faulty information.

9:27--7 accounts: How many bank accounts do you have?  Bernard Kilpatrick, at least at one time, had seven: five personal and two business, says his lawyer. 

9:19--Shea up: Bernard Kilpatrick's lawyer John Shea is up now to begin cross examination.

9:17--Underreported: Under questioning from Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Blackwell, Schuch says that Bernard Kilpatrick underreported his 2007 income by more than $324,000. With that, Blackwell's questions are done for now.

9:10--Agent back: IRS agent Rowena Schuch is again on the stand, and she's testifying about defendant Bernard Kilpatrick's declared income.  Yesterday, she testified that he dodged more than $180,000 in taxes he owes to the feds.

She conducted an investigation into Kilpatrick's finances, and has been on the stand about a half-dozen times throughout the trial.

9:00--Welcome back: We're on day 48 of trial, and the final one of the week.  It seems to be casual Friday here in Judge Nancy Edmunds' courtroom, as Kwame Kilpatrick is wearing a brown sport coat and a sweater underneath it. Who needs a tie? 

Have a question or comment for Ross?  E-mail him at rjones@wxyz.com.  You can also follow him on Twitter @RossJones7 or like him on Facebook.

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